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The Full Armor

Inspired by and taken from “The Magnificent Defeat” by Frederick Buechnerarmor of man, armor of God, ephesians
Which armor are you putting on?  Is it the armor for the war between flesh and flesh, or between flesh and the spiritual forces of evil.

The armor used for Flesh vs. Flesh wars is not the whole armor of God but, rather, the whole armor of man, because this is man’s war against other men.  In such a war perhaps you wear something like this:

  • Gird you loins with wisdom, the sad wisdom of the world which knows that dog eats dog, that the gods help those who help themselves and charity begins at home.
  • Put on the breastplate of self-confidence because if you have no faith in yourself, if you cannot trust to your own wits, then you will never get anywhere.
  • Let your feet by shod with the gospel of success – the good news that you can get just about anything in this world if you want it badly enough and are willing to fight for it.
  • Above all, take the shield of security because in a perilous world where anything can happen, security is perhaps what you need more than anything else – the security of money in the bank, or a college degree, or some basic skill that you can always fall back on.
  • And take the helmet of attractiveness or personality and the sword of wit

People are always criticizing the advertising business for its implied promise that the one who gets the best job or the prettiest girl is the one who wears the right clothes or uses the right toothpaste or drinks the right brand of vodka.  But the fact of the matter is that although this is by no means a happy truth about our society, it is nonetheless very often not far from being true… In the war of conquest, that is to say, in the war that we all wage for a place in the sun, it is the armor of man rather than the armor of God that will serve you best; and although I can’t value that armor as highly as some would value it, I also cannot mock it because the armor of man serves its purpose all too well, and because I wear some of it myself, and so do you.   – Fredrick Buechner

 

Ephesians 6:10-18

New King James Version (NKJV)

The Whole Armor of God

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age,[a] against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—

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My Father; My Hero

written by Gene Wiggins

My father is my hero. He hasn’t always been, I’m ashamed to say, but he is now.

dad, hero, mentor, model, MENTOR, father, fatheringHere are some of the reasons that my father is my hero:

  1. He’s always composed and calm.  Never out of control, nor does he ever yell, unless someone is yelling too much and too near him.  (A person can only take so much.)
  2. He recognizes he makes mistakes and he apologizes when he hurts someone’s feelings.  He knows he’s not perfect but he accepts it for what it is.   Some people strive to be perfect and others like to point out other’s mistakes.  Which are you?
  3. He smiles and talks to people he likes and loves.  He doesn’t talk to people that he’s either annoyed with, or plainly doesn’t like.  But doesn’t say anything negative about that person.  He generally nods them to death and pictures a donkey in his head.
  4. He prefers a person’s company rather than gifts.  But if your going to give him clothing make sure he has plenty of room, but that it’s not too big.  If you give him candy, make sure it is butterscotch, or chocolate or caramel or all of the above, and always salty.
  5. He knows when someone wants something from him.  He may look like a western hick, but he’s as smart as they come.  He’ll catch you in a lie.  He’s not forgetful, he’s just slow of hearing.
  6. He’s not materialistic.  He would be happy anywhere as long as he has something to keep the rain off his head, something to keep him warm and a bed to rest in.  (I hear you giggling, Donna and Lynda)
  7. He’s generous and caring.  He’s generous with gifts and will give away all his possessions without thinking about it.  But somehow he knows who’s genuine, and who’s trying to play him.  The devil himself would give up and go back to hell before he got anything out of my old man.
  8. He’s helpful.  He’ll go out of his way to fix something or build a fence for a neighbor.   I heard a story from a neighbor who lived next door to my father once.  My father overheard his neighbor talking about hiring someone to cut down a tree in his front yard.  The man heard my dad shout “I’ll be right back.”  Shrugging the man continued his conversation with his friend.  A moment later my father came back with the longest chainsaw he ever saw (that’s my dad–overkill).  He started the motor up and went to work. The man said he witnessed sawdust and chips flying all over the place.  So much that he couldn’t see my father or the tree.  Another moment later, the tree slowly toppled to one side.  And low and behold my father still stood there completely covered in sawdust, including his glasses.  He took his glasses off and said ‘there ya go’ and promptly began sawing it up into fireplace sized pieces.  It was all done in ten minutes.  He helped his neighbor stack the pieces in the side yard off the lawn.  And they became best friends and the neighbor later on became my best man.  He loves telling the story to outsiders, just so they would know what kind of man my father is.
  9. He’s a veteran of three wars.  World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam war. Although he never saw combat, he sat behind a gunnery tower keeping his eyes on the night sky and drinking the world’s strongest coffee.  Navy coffee.  What’s left over they use to remove the paint off the ship.  No really, seriously.  What does that do to your insides then?
  10. He is a true believer.  He believes in God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  He’s always believed God will get you out of any fix you’ve stumbled into.  And he’s had a few close calls.
  11. He loves me unconditionally.  After recovering my long term memory in the hospital I remember how much he had to put up with me.  All the trouble I would get into.  All the trouble I would cause, and all the trouble makers I would hang with.  I always said the wrong thing at the wrong time, pulled the wrong pin, or cut the wrong wire.  My dad would just shake his head and sometimes let out a breath of air at the same time, but just walk away.  But never did he hit me, never did he say a discouraging word, and he most certainly never spanked my bottom.  But he knew there was something not quite right with his son.  Dad let me tell you what it was, hormones and the scantily clad girl across the street.

These are just some of the reason my dad is my mentor.  I love him very much, as much as my wife loves her friends and family, and I’m glad he’s my father, but mostly, I’m proud to call him my hero.
Creative Commons License
My Father; My Hero by Westchester Men’s Ministry is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at http://www.facebook.com/notes/william-wiggins/my-dad-my-hero/187371661403412.

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Christian Budgeting Basics

Dick WiedenheftCommunity Bible ChurchDick Wiedenheft is the pastor of Community Bible Church in Yorktown, NY.  Given the current economic challenges, we recently talked to him about how he and his family budget and the advice he has for others who are trying to be better stewards of the finances God has given them.

Dick, I overheard you talk about you and your wife’s budgeting process and I thought it would be valuable for our readers to hear about it.  First, why do you think budgeting is important and why did your family start?

According to creditcard.com, the average credit card user has $4,600  in credit card debt.   When you consider the fact that a majority of credit card users don’t have any credit card debt and you focus on the remaining users who do, their average debt skyrockets to $16,000 per household.  As a pastor, I can assure you, these people are in our churches.

People with this kind of debt, experience firsthand the practical wisdom given to us in Proverbs 22:7 “The rich rule over the poor and the borrower is the slave to the lender.”  Financial slavery and the stresses that come with it are not what God wants for his people.  Rather, he wants us to experience and model his generosity by being in a position to be generous to others (Eph 4:28).

This is where budgeting comes in.  Each year we take in so much money and we spend so much money.  The goal is to spend less than we take in, and it takes some organization to achieve this.  My wife had a simple budgeting method which worked for her when she was single, and we carried this into our marriage.  We wanted to know where our money was going and to make sure we had a plan to spend less than we earned.

Dick, what method has worked for your family?  Are there any pitfalls that people should be aware of before starting to budget?

We currently use Quicken software (other budgeting programs include: Mvelopes, Mint, etc.) – it allows you to set a budget, to track all your expenses, and to check how far ahead or behind of budget you are.  It even allows you to download transactions from your bank and credit cards.  The main reason we went to Quicken was because we made too many math mistakes when we did it by hand!

But you don’t need a computer.  We started with a small notebook.  For each month, we’d write a column for each major expense we had (rent payment, utilities, groceries, savings, offerings, etc.).  Then we’d write our budgeted amount for that category.  Each time we had an expense in one of those categories, we’re write it below the total and subtract.  the balance was our new Total.  So we always knew instantly how much money we had in each category.  At the end of the month, we’d flip to a new page and start over.

If we had gone over budget in a given category, we’d carry that negative number over to the new month and immediately subtract it from budgeted amount.  That meant we’d be starting that new month with a smaller amount in that category.  If we went under-budget and had a surplus in a category, we had some choices — we could carry that surplus to the next month, we could transfer it to another category, we could add it to savings, we could give it away, or we could buy ourselves a treat!

Do you and your wife ever disagree about how money should be spent?

Yes, like any other couple, money has the potential to be a big source of tension in our relationship.  That’s minimized a lot because we have both agreed to live on a budget and we both try to stick to it.  We sometimes have disagreements at the beginning of the year when we’re coming up with our budget, but once it’s in place, things go pretty smoothly because we have an agreed-upon plan.

Two other things we do to keep harmony is we have an agreement that neither of us will spend more than $100 (except on bills) without checking with the other person first.  Also, we give each other a monthly personal allowance that we can spend on whatever we want.  We have different values  about what is worth spending money on, and our allowance gives us each some freedom to spend some money however we want without having to answer to the other for it.  If I want to save up my allowance for months to buy a tech gadget and she wants to spend hers on a latte twice a week, we each have the freedom to do that.

In regards to debt, how do you recommend people manage it?  Any advice?

This is a big topic.  To keep it simple, I’ll focus on credit card debt and leave mortgages and car payments aside.  First, it doesn’t work to ignore your debt and hope it will go away.  It won’t!  Getting out of debt requires the desire and discipline to deal with it.  There are several ministries and organizations like Crown Financial and Financial Peace University who offer courses and materials which can really help here.

Second, anything you can do to pay down the cards with the highest interest rates or to transfer balances to a loan/credit card with a lower interest rate will save you from wasting your money on interest payments.  Third, once you have your debt under control, you have to honestly ask yourself whether you have the self-discipline to charge only what you can pay off every month.  Otherwise, you really need to cut up your credit cards.

Also, it can be really helpful to find a credit counselor.  Some counselors charge a fee.  Others are free because they get paid by creditors.  You’ll need to do some research to find a good one.  Credit counselors have saved people thousands of dollars on credit card and other debt payments.  They can help you come up with a “doable” budget plan and then they will often negotiate with your creditors to reduce your interest rate or forgive some of your debt.  Creditors would rather get some of what you owe them rather than none of it.  If a credit counselor can assure a creditor that you have a plan in place and are being diligent, a creditor will often cut you some slack so you can make your plan work.  Even if they won’t, often the counselor can help you come up with a plan and help you find the discipline to dig yourself out from your debt.

What if we create a budget and we find that our monthly expenses are greater than our income?

That happens from time to time when we have unexpected expenses, gas prices go up, or our post-tax income isn’t what we expected.  Then, we’ve got to sit down and either lower our expenses or figure out how to bring in more income.  We have to ask each other what we can do without for a while.  Sometimes, if the expense was a one-time hit (like a major car repair), we might dip into savings to cover it, but this isn’t a permanent answer.

Other resources:

Crown Financial Ministries    Focus on the Family  Mvelopes

Creative Commons License
Christian Budgeting Basics by Westchester Men’s Ministry is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at http://nymensministry.com/2012/10/10/christianbudgetingbasics/.

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I’m Watching You Dad !

Model the Behavior for your kids

Be the model that your kids need you to be!

Thank you Dads for all you do!

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Protecting Your Family

As Christian parents, it is imperative that we regulate what our children see on TV, the internet and elsewhere

“Train up a child in the way he should go,  And when he is old he will not depart from it” – Proverbs 22:6

“But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” – Matthew 5:28

“I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman” – Job 31:1

Some Statistics:

  1. On Internet sexual content from Online MBA.  See the full infographic here:

  

2. On TV – according to USA Today, teens experience 3 times as much sexual content on TV then on the internet.  

3. The impact of all this sexual content:

    • According to a Rand study, teens that saw the most sex on TV were twice as likely to initiate intercourse
    • According to Pediatrics, teens who were exposed to the most sexual content were twice as likely to get pregnant in the subsequent 3 year period.
    • Also TV, internet and games, impact their weight and sleep, depression and anxiety, and even grades

So, How Do We Respond?!

I was planning to put together a list of tools and resources but then found Focus on the Family’s page on the topic and I think it is pretty good.  There are other tools out there as well like SafeEyes and Norton Family but this site also contains resources for TV, etc.  So take a look at this site and let us know what you think in the comments.  Thanks!

Focus on the Family – Safety Resources

Sources for all data are listed in the body of this blog.  Please refer to the links for more details.  Thanks!

Creative Commons License
Protecting Your Family by Westchester Men’s Ministry is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at nymensministry.com.

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I Am Second

  A friend introduced me to ‘I am second’ yesterday.  It’s a great site where famous and not so famous people share their testimonies.  That is how they came to follow Jesus.  So ‘I am second’ really means, ‘God is first!’

I couldn’t figure out how to embed the video here.  I’m sorry.  I will fix it, if I can this weekend.  The Josh Hamilton video is well worth watching!

Enjoy and have a nice weekend!

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M = Model the Behavior

        I just love this picture!  It appeared in the Fall edition of Seed & Harvest from the Trinity School for Ministry.  Although I don’t know Tyler, I can tell he is a great dad.  So I thought this was the perfect image to use as we talk about the ‘M’ in M*E*N*T*O*R.

We’d like to ask you to tell us about people you know who are great Dads.  We then publish some of the stories and videos that we receive.  You can contact us at NYMensMinistry@yahoo.com.

Thanks for reading!

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Casting Crowns – Courageous (Official Music Video from the Movie)

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God’s Response to Our Wounds

The Situation: We are all Wounded

  • We are all impacted by our parents. Their actions, their example and their love.
  • Since they are imperfect (like us), we are wounded.
  • These wounds leave us unsure about ourselves and afraid that we will be exposed as less then what we appear to be.
  • They are a lie, that says we are unworthy or not valuable.
  • Like any lie or half truth, it can cause us to respond incorrectly.
  • Even Jesus needed to hear words of affirmation from his father.

You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased  - Luke 3:22

God’s Response
Galatians 4:4-7
“But when the fullness of time had come. God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.” (ESV)

Joshua 1:9
“…Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you where you go.”

Psalm 139:7-10
“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.”

Proverbs 3:11-12
”My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in” (NIV)

Hebrews 12:7
“Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?”

Proverbs 17:6
“The glory of children is their father” (NKJV)

Study Questions

  1. What words or thoughts strike you in the verses above?
  2. How has God affirmed you in a way your father didn’t or couldn’t?
  3. What implications does this have on us, as fathers?
  4. How can we pray for you as a father? For your son or daughter?
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